Building your child's future with you.
Head Start provides free preschool and in-home early learning programs for expectant families and children birth to age five. (Services vary by location and age.)
The University of South Dakota has administered the local Head Start grant program for 45 years. USD Head Start provides FREE inclusive comprehensive services to eligible children and families by supporting nutrition, health, disability, education, mental health, and family services. Eligibility criteria may include family income, child age, and/or a child or pregnant woman's special needs.
Funding is provided through the Administration for Children & Families, Dept of Health & Human Services - Office of Head Start.
We serve our communities youngest learners in the southeast South Dakota counties of Clay, Lincoln, Turner and Union. Program services are available in-home or at one of our local pre-school classroom locations. (Services vary by location and age.)
Our highly skilled team members to provide quality programming to help prepare your child for Kindergarten.
Early Head Start is an inclusive high-quality in-home child development program designed for expectant families, infants and toddlers birth to age three. We believe parents are a child’s first and best teacher. The Parents as Teachers curriculum provide a basis for lessons and activities. Parent interaction and involvement during home visits is the key to a positive Early Head Start experience.
In-Home: A home visitor will meet with you in your home once a week at a regularly scheduled time. During your 1.5-hour visit, you will receive information regarding child development and participate in activities designed according to meet your child’s goals and needs. Play and Learn Sessions (PALS), a group socialization experience, are held twice per month. PALS provide an opportunity for adults and children to build connections in a fun environment.
Expectant Families: Pregnant women receive home visits for prenatal education and support. Once your baby is born, your child enters the program in your place, and is then considered an Early Head Start child.
(Note: In the case of multiple births, enrollment for all children at the time of birth cannot be guaranteed.)
It’s preschool time! Children ages 3-5 attend class at one of our preschool classroom locations or in rural areas can receive in-home preschool services (once per week). Classroom options include, half day, extended day, and full-day/full-year in partnership with community child care providers (Vermillion).
Head over to the Apply section to complete an application and join in the fun!
Center-Based: Children learn best through play, so our preschool classrooms are designed to maximize learning by providing quality learning centers and activities where children learn and explore. The Creative Curriculum meets the standards set forth in the Head Start Early Learning Guidelines. Each day is spent exploring and experimenting through play, music, language and physical activities. All activities are success-oriented and help children grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. We provide 2-3 meal opportunities each day (based on half or full-day program enrollment). This may include breakfast, lunch, and snack. Two home visits and two conferences are completed each program year. You will help set goals for your child’s development in a “school readiness plan.”
In-Home: We will bring preschool to your door! A home visitor will meet with you in your home once a week at a regularly scheduled time. During your 1.5-hour visit, you will receive information regarding child development and participate in preschool activities designed to meet your child’s goals and needs. Play and Learn Sessions (PALS), a group socialization experience, are held twice per month. PALS provide an opportunity for adults and children to build connections in a fun environment.
Full-Day, Full-Year (Available in Vermillion): We partner with licensed community childcare centers to provide Head Start services within a childcare setting. You are eligible to enroll your child in this option if you are working, attending school, or training and need at least 30 hours of childcare weekly. This Head Start option runs 12 months a year, five days a week. The cost of childcare is greatly reduced as you will not be charged for hours your child attends Head Start.
1. Submit Your Application
USD Head Start
414 E Clark St.
Vermillion, SD 57069
2. Provide Proof of Income
Proof of income is required with your application. Everyone is encouraged to apply regardless of income. A limited number of over income spots are available.
- Documentation your family qualifies for one of the following programs
- SNAP – Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program
- Supplemental Security Income
- TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Foster Care Placement (child in care is categorically eligible)
Note: additional proof of income may not be necessary if you provide documentation that you qualify for one of the above
- Documentation showing household income:
- Income tax form 1040, W-2, or current pay stub
- Unemployment documentation
- Written statements from employer
- Child support or Guardianship payment documentation
- Financial aid award letter
Carmen Stewart, director of the University of South Dakota Head Start program, was recently presented with the Child Advocate of the Year Award by the Clay County Child Protection Team.